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State Officials Devising New System For Hurricane Evacuations

Rising water following Hurricane Florence is leading to road closures like this on on Arrington Bridge Road in Goldsboro, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Ben McKeown

State emergency management officials are devising a new system for evacuating residents in the event of major storms.A pilot program is underway in three northeastern counties near Virginia, which already has such a system in place, according to Department of Public Safety Spokesman Keith Acree.

"Pasquotank and Camden were very interested in piloting early because they're right there on the border, they get all their news from the Norfolk, Virginia, media market and everyone up there is seeing evacuations being ordered that way,” Acree said. “So, you know, it would make sense that North Carolina would have a similar system."

The new evacuation system designates evacuation zones based on storm-surge modeling. Acree says a hurricane guide will be coming out next year in printed and electronic form that will include information to help coastal residents identify their evacuation zones.

"So you know that you are in Craven County Zone A or Zone B or Currituck County Zone C and then when evacuations would be ordered they'd be ordered using those zones so you didn't have to figure out in the heat of a storm whether you were within two miles of the route or not,” he said.

Following the testing in the down east counties of Craven, Pasquotank and Camden this season, Acree says the goal is to designate evacuation zones in 21 coastal counties by the 2020 hurricane season.

Rusty Jacobs is WUNC's Voting and Election Integrity Reporter.
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